Folks who pay attention to the wheat market could find several reasons why prices could be a bit higher than they are now.

Typically, markets improve at this time of the year, says Texas AgriLife Extension marketing specialist Stan Bevers. “The current downturn is abnormal,” he said during the recent Red River Crops Conference in Altus, Okla. “Typically, the wheat market is moving higher at this time of year.”

He says it will be important for wheat to stay above $6 a bushel. Otherwise, we could see a cash price move to the low $5 range.”

Another factor supporting or suggesting that prices could be higher is that winter wheat planted acreage is down 3 percent. “So, could wheat price go higher? The wheat crop also does not look good right now,” he added.

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Much of the winter wheat production area lies within a region still suffering from long-term drought. “What’s our production outlook?” Bevers asked. “I have no clue. We can still make a pretty good crop, if we get rain. Some areas never came out of drought.” Lingering drought could suggest a price uptick, he said. “But a good rain would solve that, and then a move up would not be justified. If drought persists through the end of April, markets could move up. But if the drought continues, growers have no wheat to sell.”

He said some observers are concerned about winter kill in the Central Plains.

Production and consumption affect the markets, Bevers said, and last year world’s production was higher than consumption, increasing stocks. Even that aspect has caveats, however. “The world has plenty of wheat but not plenty of quality wheat. The United States has quality wheat, hard wheat.”

Multiple factors affect wheat offerings.

U.S. production last year was 2.1 billion bushels. Carryover will not be known until May, but typical carryover is 643 million bushels. Domestic use takes from 1 billion to 1.5 billion bushels, “about half of total production, Bevers said. “Export totals are variable, 1 billion bushels, plus or minus a bit. Typically, we export about half our production and without exports we would have no market for about half our crop and prices would tumble. Currently, exports are holding up.”

Ending stock for U.S. wheat the last ten years has averaged 643 million bushels. Currently, carryover is 608 million bushels. “So, should wheat prices be a little higher?”

Bevers characterizes current offerings as “mediocre. It’s not $8 but it’s not $4 either.”

Still, demand is in a tight spot with a ten-year average world supply at 6 billion bushels. “We now have 6.8 billion bushels, so an upward price move may not be justified.”